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Old 06-08-2012   #1
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Brian Evenson's Immobility

Earlier this evening in the local branch of a public library I found a copy of Evenson's new novel, the post-apocalyptic Immobility, and I was pleasantly shocked when I read the book's dedication: "For Peter Wessel Zapffe and Thomas Ligotti." Apparently the novel features a "realist philosopher" named Rykte who, according to several web reviews, might be loosely based upon our figurehead himself. Take the following exchange on page 208:

"What are you, a libertarian?" asked Horkai.

"No," said Rykte.

"An anarchist?"

"Who isn't these days?" asked Rykye. "But no, no more so than anybody else."

Horkai looked at him a long time. "You really think humanity should die out?"

"Objectively, yes," said Rykte. "I've thought about it and thought about it, and rationally it seems the right thing. If we want anything at all to go on, humanity should die out." He turned to Horkai and smiled. "But when I think about it subjectively, it doesn't seem so clear cut."

"No?"

"No. So I do nothing. I neither help humanity along toward its own extinction nor do I prevent that extinction from happening. I don't slaughter everyone I meet, don't use well-placed grenades to open the few remaining shelters to the poisons outside. But neither do I help them. What does that make me? Ineffectual? Uninvolved?"

"Lukewarm," said Horkai.

Rykte smiled. "So then because thou art lukewarm," he said, "and neither hot nor cold, I will spew thee out of my mouth."

*

Well, I'm intrigued. It's a fine wintry night here in my part of the world, and time to settle in with a new book and a bottle of wine.


"Reality is the shadow of the word." -- Bruno Schulz
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Old 06-08-2012   #2
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Re: Brian Evenson's Immobility

I really enjoyed the book, which I'm in the process of reviewing this week. I wouldn't overstate Rykte's role in the book, nor the degree to which Ligottian philosophy figures.

It's a bleak, gloomy book which will certainly appeal to many here, so long as they don't go looking for too overt a Ligotti connection.

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Old 06-08-2012   #3
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Re: Brian Evenson's Immobility

This is going to the top of my to-read list. meaning i'll probably start on it in a week or two.
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Old 06-12-2012   #4
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Re: Brian Evenson's Immobility

VERY interesting. I'm in the process of working my way through Evenson's latest short story collection, Windeye, and noticed that he seems to have some affinity for the idea of a mutable reality, which seems to be consistent with a strand of Tom's work. (In Tom's fiction, I think there's more of an aesthetic preoccupation with the hideousness of the mutability, as in stories like "The Chymist" and "The Night School" ).

Just last night, I was reading a story in this collection called "Baby or Doll" (the very title striking me as a little Ligottiesque) and now this. I suppose this wasn't my imagination!

Brian Evenson...rock on with yer pessimistic self!
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Old 06-12-2012   #5
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Re: Brian Evenson's Immobility

The last time I finished reading a novel set in a post-apocalyptic world I closed the cover gently and then hurled the book across the room, utterly disgusted with myself for being taken in by an insider author posing as an outsider. The novel of course was The Sellout, or The Road to Jesus by Cormac McCarthy. We all remember how the young protagonist, after wandering through a ruined world and witnessing the degeneration of humanity, hitches his little red wagon to a merry band of Jesus freaks--The End!

Brian Evenson's Immobility is one of the few, perhaps only, recent novels I have read which truly breaks with the Nobel dictum, as outlined by Ligotti in his introductory essay on Roland Torpor: "the most outstanding work of an idealistic tendency." Evenson has written a genuine outsider's novel. Like McCarthy's Sellout, Immobility wraps up in a hurry, but the implications of Evenson's novel are so sinister and horrific that I found myself clutching the book to my stomach and involuntarily shaking my head.

The only novel with which Immobility can be compared is, in my opinion, Roland Torpor's The Tenant. Evenson's character Josef Horkai might be a futuristic relative of Torpor's Trelkovsky. Both are trapped in an unending, recurrent nightmare from which there is no hope of escape, and the only possible outcome is insanity: "A moaning sound came from Trelkovsky's mouth, stifled at first, then swelling to an unbearable scream." Now that's how a novel should end! Without giving away specific details, let me assure you that Immobility concludes on a similar, deeply satisfying note--if you're into that kind of thing, which I know you are.

The novel also highlighted for me another glaring deficiency of McCarthy's The Road to Jesus. Whereas that book is utterly devoid of humour, Evenson had me laughing out loud--much as Ligotti does. The "spine-sawing" operation, performed by two "mules" in a gutted hospital, was particularly amusing.

The grimmest books are also the funniest.

One more thing. I wrote the opening post to this thread before I had read the novel, such was my excitement. Any explicit reference to Ligotti begins and ends with the dedication page. But with that said, the book is Ligottian from start to finish. The nameless, reclusive character Rykte might not be based upon any living person, but Evenson has given him some of the best lines in the book. Enjoy:

Once they were gone, Rykte reloaded the shotgun, put it back on the table beside the door. He sat down in a rocking chair, the pistol out of the holster and balanced across his knees.

"That wasn't so bad," he said. "Last time they came, it was worse."

"What happened?" asked Horkai.

"There were a few more of them," he said. "And a few less of us. Had to kill a few of them and deliver the heads back to their friends."

"And then they just left you alone?"

He smiled wryly. "If you deliver enough heads, they tend to do that. At least for a while."
*
The things a man has to do just to be left alone by the conspirators!;)

"Reality is the shadow of the word." -- Bruno Schulz

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Old 06-12-2012   #6
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Re: Brian Evenson's Immobility

The Road was written, according to McArthy, after a vision of sorts that he had while traveling with his young son through Ireland. Although I also found the religious stuff in the end a bit unrelated, I kind of understand it. It's a grim book written by an old guy who entered fatherhood already as an old guy. I guess that played with his feelings in some way? Give the old coot a chance.

"Blood Meridian" is still my favorite novel, though.

I have Immobility on my watch list, I first need to make some room for it.

Anyway, people die...
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I am simply an accident. Why take it all so seriously?
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Old 06-24-2012   #7
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Re: Brian Evenson's Immobility

Just posted my review of Immobility.

Amazon:


Goodreads: M Griffin (Portland, OR)'s review of Immobility
My blog: Words In: Immobility by Brian Evenson [ GriffinWords ]

All three links are the same review... just a matter of where you may prefer to read, comment, click "helpful" or that sort of thing.

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